A CITY charity has launched an ambitious drive to give two training bicycles to every nursery in the city.
Bike Station, which is based on Causewayside, aims to raise around £30,000 to buy the bicycles for every council-run nursery in the city in a bid to get children active and healthy from an early age.
Manager Steve Hynd insists if the scheme is successful, it could eventually be rolled out across the whole of Scotland.
The project has already been trialled in 25 nurseries across some of Edinburgh’s most deprived areas after funding was provided by the council.
Mr Hynd admitted the scheme was “very ambitious” but insisted he was confident the cash could be raised through online crowdfunding.
He said: “It’s something we have been working on for a couple of years. If we can get kids on balance bikes and normalise cycling we will see results in 15 to 20 years time.
“We’ve been given some money from the council to get 50 balance bikes in 25 nurseries in the city’s deprived areas to start with. But we’re using the fact we’re doing this to try to snowball it.
“The dream is to have them in every nursery across Edinburgh – and if we can get it big enough, out across Scotland too. Everything that gets donated basically gets turned into more balance bikes in more nurseries.
“The idea is that if we have all these bikes in nurseries then hopefully people will be more encouraged to let their children do these sorts of activities. Children who have a lot more physical activity in their early years develop better, both physically and mentally.
“We are hoping that through public donations of a quid here and a quid there – but also through corporate businesses doing the odd thing to raise money – that we can raise a fair bit of money.
“At the moment we have no finish date on this. It will take as long as it takes to raise it all. But it’s something we firmly believe is worth doing.”
The “sturdy and good quality” Ridgeback Scoots balance bikes have no pedals and are designed to help children learn how to balance and ride a bicycle.
The charity will also provide each nursery with a free repair service and bicycle pump.
The project will be monitored and analysed to help nursery staff and parents introduce any necessary improvements.
Bike Station bosses say that supplying just two bikes will benefit at least 60 children every term at each separate nursery.
Councillor Lesley Hinds, the city’s transport leader, said the project currently being supported by the council “will allow many of our children to reap the social and physical benefits while at nursery”.
She said: “Cycling is a fantastic activity for young people to get involved in and balance bikes help introduce children to exercise from a very early age.
“In Edinburgh, we are committed to promoting active travel to people of all ages and abilities so welcome any project like this, which will encourage community support.”